Day 1: Soraypampa – Salkantaytampa – Salkantay Pass – Wayracmachay
We will pick you up from your hotel at 4:30 a.m. to begin our expedition to Machu Picchu. You will be met at your hotel by your trekking guide, cook and porters to drive three hours in our private van to the trail head, Soraypampa. You will enjoy your first breakfast, prepared by your trekking chef, and then you will start preparing for your journey. If the weather allows, the views from this area are breathtaking. You will be looking at two big mountains, called Humantay (5,900 meters above sea level) and Salkantay (6,215 meters above sea level). Your guide will introduce the team, take a group photo and at around 8:30 a.m., you should be hiking, on your way to Machu Picchu. During the day's hike, you will explore the Andes with alpine views, the entire time. For two hours, you will partake in gradual, uphill hiking along the Salknatay valley, until we arrive to Salkantay Pampa, located at 4,000 meters, for a break and some beautiful views of the Salkantay glacier peak and the Salkantay river. After your break, you will continue the last one hour uphill, by switchback, to our lunch spot at Laguna Suyroccocha, located at 4,200 meters high. You will be impressed with the view along the way, as you pass by streams, waterfalls from the hillsides and views of both mountains (Salkantay and Huamantay). Meals are always something to look forward to when you hike with Alpaca Expeditions. For your first lunch, you will be met by your trekking chef and porters, who will be ready with hot beverages, followed by an amazing family-style meal for you to enjoy. This spot is located close to the mountain of Salkantay, so you will be able to see and hear some avalanches falling from the hill of the Salkantay glacier peak. You can have a small nap after lunch until its time to continue your expedition. It will begin with the last uphill portion of the day, towards Salkantay Pass at 4,650 meters high, the highest point of the trek. This will take about an hour, We will reward your hard work with some hot drinks, or coca tea. As the sky starts changing colors, you will be able to enjoy these amazing views without any other tourists. The views will surround you. You will be looking out at Salkantay peak, valleys, waterfalls, clouds lifting over the valleys and the beginning of the sunset, over the mountains. If there is enough time, you will take a short walk to enjoy the small, colorful lake, located at the foot of the glaciers. Finally, your last two hours will be downhill to our first campsite, called Wayracmachay, located at 3,800 meters high. Again, you will experience some impressive views. You will enjoy the back side of the mountain, which always has snow on the roof, and the cloud forest at the bottom of the valley. Hopefully, the weather will allow you to watch the sunset over this magical location, and see the condors flying above. At around 5:30 p.m., you will get to your campsite, located at the foot of Salkantay mountain, and your trekking staff will have your tents set up and with your duffel bags ready. They will provide you with warm water to get washed up and change into something warm. We will have a happy hour with hot chocolate and coffee, followed by dinner. If the weather allows, you will get to enjoy the blue sky, as your tour guide will show you the Inca constellations.
Walking Distance: 15 km.
Elevation Gained: 850 meters.
Elevation Descended: 850 meters.
Weather: Cold, windy, rainy in the wet season.
Day 2: Wayracmachay – Chaullay – Ccollpapampa La Playa – Sahuayaku
Your trekking team will wake you early with a hot drink, to help you start the day. Hopefully, as you open your tent, you will see the sunrise, over glacier peaks and clouds, lifting from the green, cloud forest. Your will have time to pack up and enjoy a nice breakfast, prepared by your trekking chef. Around 7 a.m., you will begin the hike, which will be four hours downhill, until you arrive at your lunch spot, called Ccollpapampa, at 2,700 meters high. Shortly after you begin to walk from breakfast, you will notice that the micro-climate changes from cold and glacier views, to a warmer forest with green, lush jungle and beautiful flora and fauna. There will be many different species of orchids to see, as well as ferns and begonia flowers. Humming birds will be above you, a difference from the day before. At lunch, you will have some time to enjoy the hot, natural thermals. This is volcanic water, with different minerals, which are used as medicine (thermal baths are optional, for five Peruvian soles). After lunch, it will be five more hours, on a gradual downhill, to our campsite, called at Sahuayacku or La Playa, at 2,400 meters high. Along the way you will explore beautiful waterfalls, rivers, and again, flora and fauna. This will be another micro-climate, called a tropical forest, where local people farm coffee, passion fruit, papayas, oranges and avocados. Upon your arrival to the campsite, you will be welcomed by your trekking staff and have time to enjoy your afternoon with hot drinks and dinner.
Walking Distance: 18 km.
Campsite Elevation: 2,400 meters.
Elevation Descended: 1,400 meters.
Weather: Warm and hot.
Day 3: La Playa Sahuayaku – Lucmabamba Coffee Farm – Inca Trail – Llactapata – Camp In Front Of Machu Picchu
After a delicious breakfast, you will get started on your shortest, but most interesting day. You will experience the most beautiful sights along your trekking route to Machu Picchu. You will explore the tropical forest and have a visit at an organic coffee farm, where you will be able to taste the coffee, prepared by the local people. Coffee is the main farming industry for the local people. They farm big hectares of coffee to export to the United States, Asia and Europe. Coffee was first discovered in Ethiopia, but it wasn't until the Spanish invaded Cusco, that it was brought to this region. You will also explore some orange and avocado farms. When you are finished, you will get the opportunity to climb part of the Inca trail for two and a half hours. You will see amazing views of the Santa Teresa valley, until you arrive at the Llactapata Inca site, right in front of Machu Picchu. This will be the first site you see, of the Lost City of the Incas. You will be able to see the Machu Picchu ruins, Huayna Picchu and Machu Picchu mountain from this spot. You will explore and learn about the Inca site with your tour guide. There will be plenty of time to take photos. It will then be 15 minutes downhill, to your lunch and campsite area. This campsite is owned by a local family, and only Alpaca Expeditions has permission to stay there. This is a great place to enjoy the sunset and sunrise over Machu Picchu. After lunch, you will have some free time to enjoy the views and relax from the hiking. Again, we will serve a lovely happy hour, with tea and coffee, and your chef will prepare a delicious meal for dinner. Once the stars come out, you can enjoy the Milky Way and the Inca constellations. This is where Incan astronomers studied the sky to predict the weather.
Walking Distance: 12 km.
Campsite Elevation: 2,700 meters.
Elevation Gained: 400 meters.
Weather: During day time hot and humid, chilly at night.
Day 4: Llactapata Mirador – Hydroelectric Water Falls, Mandor Hiram Binghams Farm – Aguas Calientes Hotel
There will be an early wake up, with a hot glass of coca tea. You will get ready for today’s activities and enjoy your last breakfast prepared by your trekking chef. You will begin your hike on a two hour, downhill path, with views of Machu Picchu, until you arrive at the hydroelectric station. The impressive part of this area, is the natural waterfall, at 300 meters high, which generates the electricity for the region of Cusco. You will then arrive at the famous Intiwatana (sun dial rock). According to history, this Inca stone used to work with the famous sun dial rock in Machu Picchu, during the winter solstice, which was the beginning of a new farming season for the Incas. After you pass this small Inca site, you will reach the train rain road, which has a nice path to walk on. It will take approximately three hours to arrive in Aguas Calientes, located at the foot of the valley of Machu Picchu. This section is interesting because it is a trail used by the American Professor, Hiram Bingham, who rediscovered Machu Picchu after centuries of it being lost. He walked along this valley looking for the lost city of Vilcabamba. He met the farmer Melochor Artaega, who guided him to Machu Picchu. You will get to pass by the farm of Melochor Artaega, where you will see many species of flora and fauna, including the famous Peruvian national bird called cock of the rock, tucanets, propendolas, parrots and orchids. Finally, upon your arrival in Aguas Calientes, you will enjoy a packed lunch. You will then go to your hotel to enjoy a hot shower and a visit to the famous, hot springs (10 soles, not included), of Aguas Calientes. In the evening, you will enjoy your final dinner with your trekking chef and say good bye to him.
Walking Distance: 14 km.
Aguas Calientes Elevation: 2,000 meters.
Day 5: Machu Picchu (The Sacred City Of The Incas) – Return to Cusco
Today is the most important day in your expedition. To get the most out of the day, we encourage every group to have an early breakfast before catching one of the first buses up to Machu Picchu (starting at 5:30 a.m.). The hotel will hold your bags for you, until you return from your tour. The bus will take 30 minutes to get to the top. Once you arrive, your guide will introduce you to Machu Picchu. You will head directly to a beautiful place to watch the sunrise and to take pictures. Your guide will walk you around the citadel, for two and a half hours, teaching you more of the history and culture of the Incas. At the end of the tour, you will have some time to yourself or, if you arranged to hike Huayna Picchu (must be booked in advance, as it sells out and costs $25 per person), your guide will show you where to begin this hike, which will take no more than two hours round-trip. You should start heading to the bus line to head back to Aguas Calientes around 3 p.m., as your train will typically leave at 4:20 p.m. (your guide will inform you if the train time is earlier). You take a two hour train back to Ollantaytambo, followed by a two hour car ride, back to your hotel for drop off.
Machu Picchu mountain can be climbed instead of Huayna Picchu for $15 per person. This hike is more challenging and takes three hours minimum, round-trip. You always have the opportunity to climb to the Sun Gate for free. This is a much easier walk of two hours, round-trip.